Residents are breathing a sigh of relief after a planning application to build 71 new homes on greenbelt land was withdrawn.

People living close to Fieldfare Way in Bacup have been fighting the application, lodged by McDermott Homes, for around three years, after discovering a piece of land, known locally as the Back Meadows, would be concreted over to make way for the new houses.

Despite the withdrawal, which happened last week and was announced at Rossendale Borough Council's planning meeting on Tuesday night, residents fear it won't be the end of the issue.

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Janet Boon, who is a member of the Bacup and Stacksteads Neighbourhood Planning Forum, set up in response to the original proposals, said she 'didn't think for a minute that it would go away'.

She said: "It's great it was withdrawn but I don't think for a minute that it will go away.

"I suppose the rest of the community are of the same ilk.

"We are aware that we need more housing but let's be sensible about where it goes and how it affects the rest of the community."

The application, to build 39 three-bedroom and 32 four-bedroom houses off Fieldfare Way, garnered more than 100 objections and faced refusal from the council over its lack of affordable houses.

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Residents in Bacup feared they would lose their precious open space, which is used by children and adults in the area for recreation and leisure.

The objections led to regular protests on the land, with residents citing loss of wildlife, increased road traffic and lack of school and doctors’ surgery spaces for new households, as other areas of concern.

Rossendale Council planning officers had said not enough affordable homes were proposed by McDermott Homes and the right mix between shared ownership and affordable rent had not been achieved, and in 2019 the application was refused, despite the site being allocated for potential housing land under the borough council’s emerging new Local Plan.

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However, McDermott resubmitted their application, complete with additional affordable housing needs.

Mrs Boon added: "McDermott did not meet the criteria set out for affordable housing with their first application.

"There were many reasons why the council was right to reject it in the first place, but to try and come back with one additional affordable house was absolute nonsense.

"It's brilliant news that it's been withdrawn as we were worried if it got through that the planning department would allow more applications not meeting criteria to be allowed.

"Over the last 18 months the Back Meadows has seen more walkers, joggers, dogs, kids, bikes than ever before. It is a valuable local asset .

"Bacup has been hit by lots of new developments. The infrastructure of such small communities does not provide for the increased population and required facilities.

"However, I fear there is more going on in the background on this one, and I don't believe it's the end of it."

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